There are six essential components of a successful small group launch. This is a transferable concept whether you’re using a church-wide campaign, a small group connection or the semester approach. Every launching strategy depends on these same components.
Detailed planning plays an important role in a small group launch. So much rides on what you’re about to do…it’s just irresponsible to wing it. The planning component includes decisions about promotion, timing, leader selection, the curriculum to be used, as well as a plan for sustaining what you launch. See also Planning an Alignment (Church-Wide Campaign), How to Develop a Timeline for Your Church-Wide Campaign and How to Sequence a Small Group Launch.
Timing is an incredibly important component. While there are a couple great opportunities every year to launch groups (and another pretty good one), there are also a couple times that are almost always wasted energy. Because launching groups is a high-energy project and so much rides on every attempt, wise leaders steward these opportunities and do everything they can to maximize the outcome. See also When Is the Best Time to Launch a Church-Wide Campaign.
Promotion is another very important component. No matter what launching strategy you’re using, you have to take into consideration several key details about almost every congregation. For example, it’s almost always the case that the people who need to connect are the least consistent attendees. Think about that. If they are the least consistent, it means you must promote the launch at least two or three weeks in a row. It probably also means that your senior pastor, who is almost always the most influential person, needs to be preaching in the weeks leading up to the launch (by the way, this is a huge detail that is often overlooked in planning). See also Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Several Weeks in a Row and 5 Keys to Getting Everyone Involved in Your Church-Wide Campaign.
Decisions about who will lead the new groups you launch is also a very important component. Whether you’re using the small group connection strategy (where the leader is selected in the process of the event), the church-wide campaign strategy along with the HOST concept (where hosts volunteer to open up their home for the small group study that accompanies the sermon series), or the semester approach where leaders would commonly be recruited and trained (or at least vetted) in advance, you will need to make decisions ahead of time about who can lead and what you might require of them. See also Determining Who Can Lead, Crowd-Friendly Leader Qualification and Small Group Leaders: Qualifications, Hoops, and Lowering the Bar.
Deciding what curriculum to be used is a critical decision. So many times every other component has been expertly dealt with only to choose the wrong curriculum and end up with a bust instead of a boom. Paying attention to who you’d like to connect as well as who will be leading is so important. Determining what you hope to accomplish, clarifying the win, is an essential step. See also How to Choose Curriculum That Launches Groups and Choosing Curriculum for New Groups for more information.
When you invest this much energy into anything, you’ve got to think ahead about sustaining what you launch. So many churches have had the experience of seeing 20 or 50 or even 100 new groups form…only to find themselves right back where they started 8 weeks later. There are some key strategic moves that definitely help sustain the maximum number of groups. Choosing a next curriculum that is similar in kind to the launching study, providing a coach or at least a helpful contact that will actually touch base during the first few weeks and talking up what’s next from the pulpit are all important keys. See also 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups and Now Is the Time to Think about What’s Next tackle this issue.